Even if you are not a newbie as a tattoo artist, remembering the needle counts and sizes of various tattoo needles could be difficult. What differentiates a conventional Magnum Shader from a Curved Magnum? When should you use a 10 gauge needle over a 12 gauge one, and vice-versa? In this piece we will talk about tattoo needle sizes and uses.

There is a variety of tattoo needle sizes and they are appropriate for different applications. We will provide a comprehensive tattoo size chart later in this article.

If you are still learning the craft of tattooing, we would like to assure you of the fact that being au fait with tattoo needles is not as difficult as you may believe. This article will walk you through the sizes and applications of various tattoo needles. Therefore, you will be able to pick the right needle while doing a tattoo.

Types Of Tattoo Needles

With a handful of alternatives available, browsing through a catalog of tattoo needles might appear to be a bit overwhelming.  But, don’t be concerned! It will all make sense once you get past the learning curve.

Tattoo Needle Sizes And Uses

You can categorize your options into six distinct classes: Round Shaders, Round Liners, Curved Magnum Shaders, Magnum Shaders, Flat Shaders, as well as Double Stack Magnum Shaders. We have discussed each category in greater depth below.

1. Round Liners

Round liners have a round pin design, as the name suggests, and they are great for drawing tidy lines. Therefore, these are ideal for creating outlines. The pins of round liner needles are soldered in a circular arrangement to provide delicate, flawless lines. The line thickness will be determined by the round liner rating you go for.

For example, a 01 round liner will produce fine lines, while a 14 round liner will yield much thicker lines.

The specialty of these liners is that they release a small amount of ink in one go. For this reason, they are the best for perfecting the details on a tattoo. Doing lines would have been a nightmare if it let out too much ink at once.

Uses: Lining, dot work, script, and lettering.

2. Round Shaders

There are a lot of similarities between round shaders and round liners since both have round pin orientation. The key difference lies in the proximity among the pins. Round liner pins are denser, hence they are perfect for crisp detailing. Round shaders, on the other hand, are better suited for doing thicker lines and coloring the outlines since the pins are more dispersed.

Uses: A limited amount of line work, shading and color filling, script, and lettering.

3. Magnum Shaders

Magnum shaders are the go-to needle type for shading. These do the opposite work of round liners, i.e., they allow a lot of ink to come out at the same time. So, they are excellent for covering more skin in minimal time. To work the ink in, fewer passes are required over an area, resulting in less skin impact.

Uses: Shading and color packing, black and grey tattoos, color realism.

4. Curved Magnum Shaders

Tattoo artists also call these needles soft magnums, round magnums, and soft edge magnums. Curved magnum shaders operate the same way as regular magnum shaders, but the pins in curved magnum shaders are curved towards the center, instead of a linear orientation.

Curved magnum shaders also release a lot of ink, but they do so in a more controlled way. So, when you are working around the edges, you would like to use this tool for better accuracy and more ink simultaneously. For fine shading, there are no better alternatives to curved magnum shaders.

Uses: Shading and color packing, black and grey, color realism.

5. Flat Shaders

Flat shaders have linearly arranged pins on the needle stick. They’re great for lining and can quickly transfer a lot of ink into the skin, allowing for a lot of shading.  Because of the shape and arrangement of the pins, these needles can distribute more ink across the skin. With only one stroke, you can create crisper, darker lines.

If you need a dark, black outline or perhaps some detailed shading, such as in mandala-style tattoos or geometric designs, flat shaders should be your weapon of choice. You can do color fills and shading with large flat shaders since they release a generous amount of ink in one sweep.

Uses: A selection of line work, small shading and color packing, black and grey tattoos, color realism.

6. Double Stack Magnum Shaders

Double stack magnum shaders are somewhat of a bygone trend these days, but you can find use for these tools in certain scenarios. The spacing between the pins is minimal, so you can use this for complex coloring and shading.

In simple terms, you can use a double stack magnum shader if you want the services of a magnum shader but need the ink rollout to be more controlled.

Uses: Black and grey tattoos, color realism, shading, and color packing.

Additional Read:

A Detailed Breakdown Of Tattoo Needle Sizes

Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about needle categories, we should turn our focus towards needle measurements.

There is a strong relationship between ink flow and the size of a tattoo needle. Smaller needles account for a smoother ink transfer. A number (typically 8, 10, or 12) denotes the gauge, whereas a millimeter measurement expresses the diameter.

Don’t be confused by the terms ‘’gauge’’ and ‘’diameter’’. Both of them indicate the size of a needle. In some markets, the manufacturers use the ‘’gauge’’ term to sell the needles, while ‘’diameter’’ is more common in other markets. Here, we will discuss both gauge and millimeter measurements to give you a clearer idea.

Here are the most common needle sizes:

8 Gauge (0.25mm)

Also known as Bugpins, these needles belong to the group of the smallest tattoo needles. They are not the smallest, however, you can find even smaller ones for special purposes. But for standard use, 8 gauge is the tiniest tattoo needle. When you require a more reserved flow of ink for elaborate designs, these are the needles to choose.

10 Gauge (0.30mm)

10 gauge is a widely popular needle size. Tattoo artists also know this needle as Double Zeros and deploy them on various occasions. It has widespread applications since it is the intermediary size among the primary needle sizes of 8, 10, and 12 gauges. 10 gauge needles are not as accurate as their 8 gauge counterparts, but they still provide a fairly consistent ink flow.

12 Gauge (0.35mm)

12 gauge needles are also a common sight in a tattoo professional’s toolbox, like the 8 and 10 gauge needles. These needles have the fastest ink flow rate among standard sizes, so artists rely on them for lining, shading, and coloring. For bold lines and coloring huge patches of skin, this is the tool you use.

6 or 0.20mm, 14 or 0.40mm, and 6 or 0.45mm are some of the other needle sizes we have left out of this discussion.

Since they only offer a handful of unique functionalities, they are becoming increasingly rare.

Tattoo Needle Size Chart

We’ve come up with this useful chart to assist you in matching the correct needles with the appropriate size tips.

1. 0.25mm-Bugpin-Needles (Round Liners)

Needle Size (RL)Tip Size
0303VT/03RT
04Same as above
05Same as above
0703VT/05RT
0805VT/05RT
09Same as above

2. 0.25mm-Bugpin-Needles (Magnum Shaders)

Needle Size (MG)Tip Size
705FT
907FT/05FT
1107FT
1309FT
1511FT
1713FT
2115FT
2317FT/15FT
2519FT/17FT

3. 0.25mm-Bugpin-Needles (Round Shaders)

Needle Size (RS)Tip Size
303VT/03RT
5Same as above
7Same as above
903VT/05RT
1407VT/09RT
18Same as above

4. 0.25mm-Bugpin-Needles (Curved Magnum Shaders)

Needle Size (CM)Tip Size
705FT
907FT/05FT
1107FT
1309FT
1511FT
1713FT
2115FT
2317FT/15FT
2519FT/17FT

5. 0.30mm-DoubleZero-Needles (Round Liners)

Needle Size (RL)Tip Size
0103VT/03RT
03Same as above
0405RT/05VT
05Same as above
0707VT/07RT
0809VT/09RT
09Same as above
1111VT/11RT
1313VT/13RT
1414VT/14RT
1818RT

6. 0.30mm-DoubleZero-Needles (Round Shaders)

Needle Size (RS)Tip Size
0303VT/03RT
0503VT/05RT
0705VT/07RT
0807VT/09VT/09RT
09Same as above
1109VT/11VT/11RT
1411VT/14RT/14VT
1818RT

7. 0.30mm-DoubleZero-Needles (Magnum Shaders)

Needle Size (MG)Tip Size
0505FT
0705FT/07FT
0907FT/09FT
1109FT/11FT
1311FT/13FT
1513FT/15FT
1715FT/17FT
1917FT/19FT
2119FT/21FT
2321FT/23FT
2523FT/25FT
2725FT/27FT

8. 0.30mm-DoubleZero-Needles (Curved Magnum Shaders)

Needle Size (CM)Tip Size
0505FT
0705FT/07FT
0907FT/09FT
11 09FT/11FT
1311FT/13FT
1513FT/15FT
1715FT/17FT
1917FT/19FT
2119FT/21FT
2321FT/23FT
2523FT/25FT
2725FT/27FT

9. 0.35mm-Standard-Needles (Round Liners)

Needle Size (RL)Tip Size
0103VT/03RT
03Same as above
0405VT/05RT
0505VT/05RT
0707VT/07RT
0809VT/09RT
09Same as above
1111VT/11RT
1313VT/13RT
1414VT/13RT
1818RT

10. 0.35mm-Standard-Needles (Round Shaders)

Needle Size (RS)Tip Size
0303RT
0505RT
0707RT
0809RT
0909RT
1111RT
1414RT
1818RT

11. 0.35mm-Standard-Needles (Magnum Shaders)

Needle Size (MG)Tip Size
0505FT
0707FT
0909FT
1111FT
1313FT
1515FT
1717FT
1919FT
2121FT
2323FT
2525FT
2727FT

12. 0.35mm-Standard-Needles (Curved Magnum Shaders)

Needle Size (CM)TIP Size
0505FT
0707FT
0909FT
1111FT
1313FT
1515FT
1717FT
1919FT
2121FT
2323FT
2525FT
2727FT

13. 0.35mm-Standard-Needles (Flat Shaders)

Needle Size (FS)Tip Size
0405FT
0507FT
0607FT
0709FT
0911FT
1315FT
1517FT

14. 0.35mm-Standard-Needles (Double Stack Magnums)

Needle Size (MG2)Tip Size
0505FT/04FT
07Same as above
0905FT
1107FT
13Same as above
1509FT

15. 0.25mm-Bugpin-Needles (Double Stack Magnums)

Needle Size (MG2)Tip Size
0505FT/04FT
07Same as above
09Same as above
11 07FT/05FT
13Same as above
1509FT/07FT

What Do Tattoo Needle Codes Mean?

Unless tiny needle with a circular pin arrangement that is commonly used as lining needles. F refers to flats, M1 represents weaving magnum, RS symbolizes round shaders, M2 stands for stacked magnum, and RM means round magnum.

Tattoo Needle Buying Guide

Buy Pre Sterile Needles

Most tattoo needles nowadays come pre-sterilized. Unsafe tattoo needles might cause skin infections and many other health hazards. So, always check the packaging information to find out whether or not the needles have been sterilized. You can, of course, disinfect them on your own. But, we often forget to do so when we are in a hurry. Better be safe than sorry!

Make Sure The Needles Are Compatible With Your Equipment

Before buying, refer to our tattoo size chart and ensure that the needles you are buying match the tube/tip you already own. If your needles are not in sync with your tattoo toolkit, you will be throwing your money away.

Check The Build Quality

Check that the pins are straight and properly soldered onto the needle bar. Using deformed needles significantly boosts the risk of causing severe injuries. Apart from the skin damage risk, it will also take a toll performance-wise, as bent needles will not be as accurate and efficient as the properly shaped ones.

Final Words

Even though the title reads tattoo needle sizes and uses guide, we have tried to incorporate as much information we could about tattoo needles. We hope, reading this article will give you a firm grasp on the essentials you need to know to master the use of tattoo needles.

Some artists develop their own preferences as they become an expert, so some of the information we gave here might not suit some users. But, it will benefit anyone who is starting from scratch and want to learn about tattoo needles in no time.

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